Markets

Two Czech billionaires and energy infrastructure investors are understood to have teamed up with state-run CEZ to bid or Alpiq’s gas- and coal-fired power plants in the Czech Republic. Having posted high losses in 2018, the Swiss firm Alpiq has been considering the sale of some power plants.

The Government of Morocco has made “positive efforts” to improve energy access for all citizens and end fossil fuel subsidies to establish a more competitive energy pricing regime, said Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). With the exception of bottled butane, fuel prices are now linked to the international market.

The power sector is attracting more investment than the oil and gas industry, with developers having spent over $1.8 trillion globally in 2018 on energy-related projects. Though the overall spent has stabilized after three years of decline, investors increasingly focus on projects with shorter lead times, the IEA’s World Energy Investment 2019 report finds.

General Electric has outperformed its rivals Siemens and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) by winning the most orders for HA-class gas turbines in Q1-2019, according to the latest McCoy Power Report. GE booked six orders, up from zero a year ago – MHPS won five orders, while Siemens booked four.

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has said it expects to produce enough natural gas from its new Assa North/Ohaji South development to provide fuel for generating about 2,400 MW of electricity. The move is part of Shell’s strategy to shift to a more gas-orientated business, said SPDC’s general manager, Igo Weli.

The coal-to-gas switch is gathering pace in the United States. Natural gas will provide the largest share of U.S. generation this summer at 40%, up from 39% last summer, EIA projections show. Coal, meanwhile, is seen losing market share to 25%, down from 28% a year earlier.

The intensifying trade war between the US and China is starting to impact shipments of US LNG to China and slows Beijing’s efforts to switch from coal to gas use in the power sector. Only four US LNG cargoes have been delivered to China since September, when a 10% tariffs came into effect. Now, Beijing hiked this levy to 25% - in retaliation to Washington’s move to expand import tariffs on Chinese goods.

Energy giant E.ON has delivered a strong operating performance in the first quarter of this year in all markets except the UK. The Essen-based company blamed Britain’s new regulatory cap on energy price for the €90 million decline in its earnings there.

Germany-based MAN Energy Solution has opened its new U.S. headquarters in Brookshire, some 30 miles west of Houston, Texas. The new workshop and office complex combines engine and turbomachinery repair operations, which were formerly located at two different Gulf Coast sites.

Falling gas prices in Europe and Asia pose no risk of reducing US LNG exports, the Cheniere CEO Jack Fusco told analysts. “There haven’t been any spot cargos that haven’t cleared the US and made a margin,” he said in his company’s Q1-2019 earnings call.

US demand for coal to generate electricity will keep falling in the coming months, federal officials said Thursday. This is despite President Trump’s efforts to shore up the struggling industry. Renewable energy sources including wind, solar and hydropower are expected to fill much of the gap left by coal's decline, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). However, natural gas is expected to remain the fuel of choice for power generation with an expected 40% share of US markets this summer.

China’s switch from coal to gas, to de-carbonise its energy mix and tackle pollution under its Blue Sky policy, requires importing considerably more gas imports and investment in related infrastructure, DNV GL said in a report. Gas currently accounts for only 7% of China’s energy mix, compared to a global average of 22% – but the Chinese government aims to boost that share to 10% by 2020, and as much as 15% by 2030.

This week, the UK’s National Grid claimed it had produced electricity without using coal for seven days. The UK pioneered the use of coal-fired power stations back in the 1880s and became a prolific user of coal as well as a major exporter, which lasted for nearly a century. “As more and more renewables come onto our energy system, coal-free runs like this are going to be a regular occurrence," said Fintan Slye, director of National Grid Group’s Electricity System Operator.

Siemens is to spin-off its Gas and Power (GP) division as part of the next phase in its ‘Vision 2020+’ plan. The plan involves creating a major new player in the energy market with a business volume of €30 billion and over 80,000 employees through the spin-off and the transfer of Siemens’ SGRE stake.

With a wave of coal-fired power plant closures in Alberta, Canada over the next several years, natural gas demand in the province is projected to surge. Alberta has told power companies to shut all coal-fired facilities by 2030.

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News in Brief

ABB microgrid makes Indian villages energy self-reliant

May 17 – ABB’s MGS100 microgrid is helping some 39,000 homes and shops in remote regions in India to become energy independent, relying solely on renewable power sources and energy storage. Together with Husk Power Systems, ABB developed the MGS100 microgrid using wind and solar power to reduce household energy costs by up to 40% and improve productivity in 85% of factories and small businesses.

J-ENG develops new biofuel engine

May 16 – Japan Engine Corp. (J-ENG) has started to cooperate with Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) to research and development a test engine running on biofuel. The new engine is designed for use in the maritime sector and is likely to be re-calibrated at a later stage for use in small-scale power generation applications.

‘Smarter E-Europe’ conference opens doors in Munich

May 15 – Today, the 2019 “Smarter E-Europe” conference and trade show is opening its doors to visitors in Munich. At the exhibition, Siemens is presenting decentralized energy solutions based on renewables and intelligent energy management systems for buildings, infrastructure and industry. Expert presentations on transforming the energy system, renewable integration and storage technologies can be seen at Siemens’ exhibit at Booth 110 in Hall B2.

Marubeni buys stake in U.S. distributed energy firm

May 14 – Japan's Marubeni Corp. has invested an undisclosed sum to buy an equity stake in GridMarket, a U.S.-based provider of development services to distributed energy resources (DER). Using proprietary analytics and machine learning, GridMarket’s distributed energy project platform helps utilities by recommending best-fit solutions like battery storage, solar PV, fuel cells and combined heat and power. By cooperating with GridMarket, Marubeni expects to identify cost-effective projects and source best-fit technologies for its own DER network in North America and Japan.

Global RES additions stall after 20-year growth

May 13 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported an “unexpected flattening of growth trends” in the deployment of renewable energy sources (RES) deployment that raises concerns about meeting long-term climate goals. After two decades of strong annual growth, renewable energy developers around the world added as much net capacity in 2018 as they did in 2017.

RWE cancels €1.5bn coal power project

May 10 – The German utility RWE has decided to no longer invest in any coal-fired power projects and has cancelled a planned €1.5 billion ($1.68bn) lignite-fired power plant in Niederaussem, Germany. Instead, the utility is accelerating its transformation to renewables, energy storage and gas-fired generation through an asset swap with Europe’s largest utility, E.ON.

China’s CPECC to process gas from Iraq’s Halfaya oilfield

May 9 – Iraq and China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corporation (CPECC) have signed a $1.07 billion deal to build and operate facilities to process natural gas extracted alongside crude oil at Iraq’s giant Halfaya oilfield. CPECC, an affiliate of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), will process around 300 million standard cubic feet per day (mcf/d) of natural gas extracted from the field alongside crude oil, the oil ministry said.  Halfaya, operated by PetroChina, is Maysan Oil Company’s largest oilfield, producing 370,000 barrels per day (bpd) of the company’s total output of around 510,000 bpd.
Iraq continues to flare some of  gas extracted alongside crude oil but the Iraqi oil minister Thamer Ghadhban told Reuters Iraq is in talks with international oil companies to build a 300 mcf plant to process gas from the West Qurna 2 and Majnoon oilfields.

Chiyoda to get large cash injection

May 8 - Following losses of nearly $1 bill on an liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant project in Louisiana, Japanese construction company Chiyoda is to get a $1.4 bill cash injection. The company suffered a $953 mill loss in the six months to 30th September, 2018 after costs spiralled on the $10 bill Hackberry LNG plant in Louisiana, largely, due to escalating labour costs, it was claimed. Chiyoda was expected to record a net loss of about $1.4 bill for the fiscal year to March. Mitsubishi Corp, which owns a 33.4% stake in Chiyoda, and the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, have agreed to provide capital while the company implements a rescue strategy, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Siemens, TÜV SÜD partner on digital energy security

May 7 – Siemens and the German technical verification association TÜV SÜD have come together to address the growing risk of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, notably in the energy sector. The companies will digitally asses industrial control systems in both the oil and gas and power generation sectors (nuclear applications excluded). All tests will be vendor-agnostic.

UK ‘can cut emissions to net-zero’ by 2025

May 6 – Advisors to the British government have urged the Cabinet to “set and vigorously pursue” a new target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net-zero’ levels by 2050, replacing the current target of an 80% reduction against 1990 levels. The the Committee on Climate Change, which published the report, believes the new target could be achieved within the same cost-framework as the current more lenient goals.

Iraq’s gas imports from Iran bound to rise in June

May 2 – Iraq has no alternative to importing more Iranian gas to meet peak summer demand, the country’s electricity ministry said. He specified that halting imports would cost Iraq’s power grid 4,000 MW per day. Some 14 GW of Iraq’s installed capacity is run on domestic gas, and supplies from Iran keep an additional 4GW operational. “Until now, we have no alternatives to Iranian gas,” a spokesman of the energy ministry said, adding imports from Iran are expected to increase in June from currently 28 million cubic metres per day to 35 MMcm/d.

Waukesha gas engines delivered to CHP in East Germany

May 1 – INNIO’s authorized partner, S&L Energie-Projekte, has provided four packages of INNIO’s Waukesha VHP 9394GSI gas engines for a CHP, operated by the municipal utility of Lutherstadt Wittenberg in eastern Germany. The modernized district heating plant is claimed to achieve an overall efficiency above 95%.

Burns & McDonnell oversee commissioning of fast-ramp plants in Michigan

April 30 – Two quick-ramp gas power plant projects in Michigan, overseen by Burns & McDonnell, are now commissioned and in full commercial operation. Both the F.D. Kuester and A.J. Mihm generating stations are powered by 18-MW, gas-fueled Wärtsilä 18V50SG reciprocating engines. The two plants have a combined 180 MW in generating capacity.

Gazprom advances start of ‘Power of Siberia’ link

April 29 – Russia’s Gazprom is preparing to start injecting natural gas into the ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline to China in Q3-2019. Preparations are “going according to schedule”, Gazprom chairman Alexey Miller told CNPC chairman Wang Yilin at a working meeting in Beijing.

Siemens to focus on energy transition at OTC 2019

April 26 – “Navigating the new normal” in the oil and gas industry - against the backdrop of the global energy transition - is in focus of Siemens’ exhibit at the 50th annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). The event will be held in Houston, Texas, on May 6-9.

Norway’s sovereign fund invests $14bn in renewables

April 25 – The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has been given permission to invest up to $14 billion in unlisted renewables. Norway’s finance minister, Siv Jensen, said the new approach was based on financial rather than environmental considerations. Moreover, Norway’s GPFG decided to tighten its coal criteria, which will lead to the divestment of large mines and coal-exposed power companies.

Smart grid market to top $70bn by 2027

April 24 – The global Smart Grid Market is expected to reach around $70 billion, growing at an annual rate of 15.56% in the coming years through to 2027.North America is forecast to see the largest revenue growth, according to ResearchNester, while Europe also shows promising growth in smart grids due to high awareness for decentralized power generation, battery storage and conserving energy.